Staff at Abu Dhabi's long-term care centres 'like family'

ABU DHABI // Staff at long-term care centres in Abu Dhabi not only look after patients in critical conditions but are in some cases the only “relatives” they have. Patients and staff at the centres said that the layoffs that resulted after a new insurance scheme was put in place deprived them of employees whom […]

ABU DHABI // Staff at long-term care centres in Abu Dhabi not only look after patients in critical conditions but are in some cases the only “relatives” they have.

Patients and staff at the centres said that the layoffs that resulted after a new insurance scheme was put in place deprived them of employees whom many describe as family.

Most staff members have been caring for their patients for more than three years.

At Cambridge Medical Rehabilitation Centre, nurses care for a 14-year-old Emirati whose family did not visit him. When he was four years old, his mother accidentally ran over him.

At Provita International Medical Centre, nurses cared for a baby who whose family was killed in a car accident last year.

Ahmed Fahmawi, ProVita acting nurse manager, is the only staff member who can communicate with one elderly Emirati patient who can only move his jaw.

“I wrote down the alphabet on a board and asked him to bite down if I pointed to the right letter.”

The sound the patient made with his teeth helped their communication.

“I now know when he wants water or which side of the bed he is more comfortable sleeping on,” he said.

Nuzha Ishak, a speech therapist at ProVita, remembered when the patients she called “her babies” uttered their first words. She carries their pictures on her phone.

“All my patients are my babies, but when you hear their voice for the first time after months of therapy it always brings tears to everybody’s eyes,” Ms Ishak said.

Staff members also prayed for justice for a nine-year-old Egyptian, Norallah, who in December was run over by a vehicle, leaving him with brain damage and paralysis.

“How can he sleep at night?” one staff member asked of the motorist. “I hope they catch him. I hope he goes to jail. We pray for that every day.”

With many families of patients in other emirates or having other responsibilities, staff members fulfil the role of family to long-term care patients in many ways.

Birthdays are celebrated with balloons, candles and cake, while photos are sent to families who cannot attend a graduation, birthday or trip to the beach that the centres have arranged.

“Staffing cuts will affect patients. All of us at ProVita are like family and the bond between staff and patients is a very strong bond,” said Michael Davis, the centre’s chief executive.

“For us, to be breaking that, not only from the financial perspective of the employees, but also the amount of support that the patient and their families receive, would be devastating for them and affect the course of treatment.”

salnuwais@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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